RicelandMeadows


Working At It
May 20, 2019, 9:32 am
Filed under: May 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

KAHplowing22019

May 20, 2019

Here we go again! The rains are still trying to keep us out of the fields, but a breezy day and warm sunshine dries things out fast. We have two wet places that would stop a tractor, but the horses plow right through.

Many farmers are getting very worried as planting days are held off by the weather. Much of our areas field work has not even been started. We are playing catch up ourselves. The horses, are soft from all those days off due to the rain, so I have to go slowly with plenty of breaks. I’m fine with that. We are making progress and that is what counts.

I am pleased with our efforts so far. The horses are working good together. This much horsepower makes everyone’s job easier. It looks like we will be able to plow for at least the next two days, but who knows? We will just take it in stride and work steady. Slow is steady, steady is fast.

The hay fields are growing quickly. Looks like as soon as the corn gets planted, we will be shifting gears and begin the work of making hay. Farm life is full of ups and downs, but a man is never bored!

num91

The new haymower…..soon it will get its debut.



April Delay
April 30, 2019, 4:34 pm
Filed under: April 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

delay243019

April 30, 2019

Well, the rain keeps falling here in northeast Ohio. Plowing for the next few days has been delayed again. The grass is growing very well, but the soil is very wet. I am glad for the growing pastures and hay fields, so will just smile as I wait for drying conditions.

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The soil is turning nicely when we can do it. The field should be a nice seedbed for the coming corn crop.I could drain this water quickly, but doing so will let a lot of soil and nutrients escape from my farm. I keep a sod strip between me and the road ditch as I try to be a responsible land steward. I don’t want to pollute any water sources downstream of my farm.

This rain has stopped all field work, but other projects rise to the top of the list. We are also working on filling the sugarhouse woodshed for the 2020 maple syrup season. We still have a bit to go, but it is filling quickly. We had a good day last Saturday splitting and stacking for a few hours. We had lots of help and the job went quick and smooth. Just two short rows to go and the woodshed will be full. A great job to have done before other seasonal jobs take our time.

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Progress is a wonderful thing. We will wait on the rains to ease, but we won’t just sit around and watch it fall. This farming life gives us plenty of opportunity to use other skills and equipment. I may even work on some forging projects, but first to complete the woodshed filling job!



April Showers 2019
April 15, 2019, 10:28 am
Filed under: April 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

aprilshower2019

April 15, 2019

We have gotten some rainy weather. The severe weather stayed south of us so far. The spring rain has sure made the grass turn green. Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. The horses are shedding gobs of hair, as their winter coats come off. Spring has sprung!

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We have had some very nice spring days. We continue to make progress on this years plowing. As I write, the fields are too wet for field work. We will work on other projects, but first, I will brush the horses and try to get more of the shedding hair off of them.

April showers do bring May flowers, but also growing pastures, green hay fields and emerging leaves on the trees. What a wonderful time of year. I am thankful to enjoy another season as the Earth wakes up from its winter sleep.



Turning Over the Sod
April 9, 2019, 9:58 am
Filed under: April 2019 | Tags: , , , ,

KAHplowing2019

April 9, 2019

Yesterday, with the help of my friend Marvin, I got started with my 2019 plowing job. It was a little wet, but this is the day we could make it happen. I wanted the help just in case Abby decided that she didn’t like the job. No worries, she did perfect. I still very much appreciated the help.

Sod is very forgiving. Also, I’m pretty sure that we will still get some cold nights below freezing. The freeze and thaw will break up any ground that was plowed too wet. The horses and I will work on this plot a little each day along with other work. This was their very first time plowing together and Abby’s fourth time working in a three-horse-hitch. I am pleased with how it all turned out.

Springplowing2019

I took this photo while I was standing in the wettest part, but the intent was to show that we got a good, straight start. This is very much due in part to planning and the help of my friend. I paced the field off to layout the back furrows and dead furrows. Now, to just keep it straight as we go.

I hope to plant corn here for the animals. The long rows will be cultivated with the horses in the same manner of old farmers long ago. I hope to do them proud. The weather and time push a guy on that job. It will also be time for cutting hay when the corn will need weeding, so balance and time management become a huge issue.

The stress of haying season can wait for now. I will sit on the plow seat and listen to the birds sing, the horse’s harness rattle and creak, while the harness bells chime a spring melody. This music cheers my spirit and warms my heart. Spring has sprung!



Here We Go Again!
November 8, 2017, 8:35 pm
Filed under: November 2017 | Tags: , , , , , ,

leftkneereplacement

November 8, 2017

After a crazy summer recovering from right knee replacement surgery…you guessed it…Now, I am recovering from left knee replacement surgery. I had hoped to put this off for several months, perhaps even a year, but my knee was too bad to wait. They tried several things to get me by, the last attempt was a sort of stabilizing gel. They say it works for 7 out of 10 people, but I was one of the other 3 I guess. I wore through that gel in seven weeks.

This recent surgery also required lots of extra work thanks to my waiting a bit too long. I had ground down the joint to the point where my leg was crooked, the cartilage was gone and the only constant was the re-occurring pain. Hard to walk a furrow behind a horse drawn plow or dang near anything else!

The farm is ready for winter, but I still will be relying on family and friends to keep everything running smooth. I am thankful for my support group including the doctors, nurses, aides and farmhands. I am especially thankful for a patient and loving wife.  This journey has been a bit longer than we first thought, but the destination is in sight. Even as I recover today, just three days post surgery, my knee is more stable than it has been in years. The pain currently is a bit rough, but I know in a few weeks the pain that I have endured for years will be much improved.

A life of hard work, carrying beef on my shoulders, rolling logs, walking rough ground, running stairs and walking on concrete took a toll on my joints. I wouldn’t have missed a single day of the life that I have chosen so far….but I do look forward to wearing out this new set of “pegs” by farming and working horses, playing with small children and walking arm and arm through the rest of my life.



Rye Cover Crop
May 22, 2017, 10:05 pm
Filed under: May 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

ryecover

May 22, 2017

This photo shows the cover crop of  cereal rye on our garden this spring. This seed is also known as annual rye. It is grown for grain for flour and for whiskey. I plant it here in late fall, September even into October. It actually grew to waist high before I got it mowed down. I mowed it with the weedeater. Usually, I just plow it under. The wet weather made the fast growing crop too rank to plow down. Once the garden was dry enough to plow, my schedule had changed, so we mowed it. Today, I could have plowed it, but am housebound recovering from pneumonia!

Using a cover crop, even in a small scale like on my garden, makes sense. The growing plants hold soil in place, stopping erosion. They suppress weeds, both in the late autumn as well as, in early spring. They “mine” minerals and nutrients out of the ground. These “mined” materials are given up by the decaying plant. Those become available to the growing plants, in a form ready for use. I will caution that decay uses soil nitrogen, so if the cover crop gets too big, like mine did this year, additional nitrogen may need to be added.

In the case of a heavy nitrogen feeder like corn (maize), you could actually set the plants back by the rich cover crop. My garden soil is well balanced. There is plenty of nitrogen available, so I am not worried. If this was a new garden spot, too much decaying plant material can almost starve the growing crop. Compost added, has already decayed, so if the carbon balance is correct, the nitrogen in the compost is stable and stays in the soil until needed by the growing crop.

You can offset the effects of a thick, heavy cover crop in its decay cycle, by adding more compost. You can add commercial fertilizer too or in place of the compost, but I choose to use compost only on our food crops. I have used commercial fertilizers, but only when soil tests demand it. I’d rather farm with nature and the balance she provides.

The mowed rye plants have dried in the sun. The hollow stems are soaking up rain water and decaying a bit. Incorporating them into the soil as soon as possible is the order of the day. I hope to beat the coming rain and have the garden plowed by chore time Wednesday. Farming is a wonderful life. It is an ongoing chemistry lesson. The cycle of life spins daily and I love the ride!



Yum times Six

6xyum

March 11, 2016

We completed our sixth boil of the maple season yesterday evening. It has been a great year for us so far. The sap is not very sweet, so it takes a lot of it to make a gallon of syrup. This year’s syrup has been light and creamy tasting. The ratio is closer to 65:1 , than our usual 40:1, but it is still worth the effort to me.

The weatherman say we are in for a warm up. Lots of folks are giving up for the season. I am not one of them. I did chase the pans with water and will do a mid-season clean up tomorrow. The pans and all equipment will be drained, cleaned, rinsed and made ready for what I hope will be the next run. It’s only early March and the trees know. A few warm days will tease them just like us, but it’s not time to start gardening yet!

As I write, the thermometer just dipped below freezing. It may not be cold enough to make the sap run, but it should remind the trees not to set buds yet. Next week looks cold and seasonable. So, with fingers crossed and plenty of wood in the woodshed, I will wait and hope for more maple sap.

Just to help things turn cold, the horses and I will start plowing. That almost always makes for a good freeze. It’s like washing your car, no sooner you get started and the rain starts to fall. The warm days and cool evenings makes for pleasant plowing. The horses ease into spring work while shedding their winter coats. I get to work the horses while the greedy maple trees hold their sap.

Last June, when we got 19 days of rain and cool temperatures, the trees could not get enough sunshine to make sugar and send the nutrients to their roots. Now, when we want the sweet juice bound for the treetops, we are reminded of the rainy days of last year and trying to make hay.

The season will be what it is and I can speak all about how it went much better in a few weeks. For now I will enjoy the nice days and continue to do farm work being ever ready to jump back into the sugarbush. It has been awesome so far. I will be satisfied with our success, thankful for the memories and happy as a little boy as I breathe the sweet steam.